Monthly Archives: April 2018

One Bean Espresso Bar

Come with me on a trip down memory lane. Right at the beginning of April, I decided to embark on a mission that had nothing to do with coffee, and everything to do with getting back into the world of academia. I went back to my old alma-mater, Shippensburg University, to meet with one of my old professors who is soon to be retiring. You see, I considered this woman the one saving grace of my otherwise lackluster college experience. Don’t get me wrong, I did well in school, I was a Magna Cum Laude in fact, but the experience itself was stressful. Being away from home was hard enough. The worst thing was, having grown up in the city, going to a country school was a bit of a culture shock and I really didn’t mesh well with much of the student body. That’s a polite way of saying that my class had all the jocks, cheerleaders, religious fundamentalists, and other assorted folks that my city school did not have.

Enter my professor. Name withheld for obvious reasons. She taught my favorite subject. I remember the first day of class; some girl mouthed off to her, asking if she would teach creationism as part of the lessons, and the professor, looking like a sweet little grandma, strolls up to her face and told her exactly what she thought of that. From that day on, I knew I’d met someone with the guts and fortitude that I could really respect. We hit it off, and her class became an island of joy in an otherwise mundane enterprise. She’d teach late classes and I’d walk out of the hall, my mind full of tales of distant cultures, staring up at the moon and imagining ancient days gone by.

Flash forward to now, and I’m planning to continue that journey by getting my Masters degree in either anthropology or liberal studies. That’s why I was down there. To pick her brain, get some good info going forward, and start putting my plans into action over the summer. Coffee was just a sidequest along the way this time, and oh, how I wish that the coffeehouse I discovered had been there when I was a student. It would have been haven number two.

One Bean Espresso Bar isn’t a stand-alone building; it’s part of a local hotel on the main street called Shippen Place. It’s also not aptly named, given that it sports far more than one bean, offering a multitude of coffee styles and pours. They default to giving you a pour-over if you order the regular, so I thought I’d try their current Nicaraguan house blend. I have to say, it was one of the best Central American coffees I’ve had in a long time; it certainly had the characteristic nuttiness of the a Nicaraguan, and had that buttery mouthfeel that I look for in coffee of that region. The coffee itself was from Denim roasters. Apparently it’s a local coffee roasting company, so that made me happy; I always like to sample what’s being done locally with coffee roasting. I like to think that the different methods used by different people constitute a “human terroir” of sorts.

Now, I’ve talked before about how there are certain places where you can instantly get a feel that they just really care about the craft of coffee. That feeling was embodied in the person of Sean McCarthy, the guy running the shop that day. Just from our brief conversation, you could get that he was a fellow¬†connoisseur of the bean. When I poured my cream in my coffee (heavy by the way, as it should be), I mentioned a bad incident at a coffeehouse up in Harrisburg where I put the cream in and it granulated. I expected him to give me the usual excuses that baristas give in that situation, saying it was normal for that to happen in some coffees. He did not. He immediately recognized the importance of milk quality and proceeded to give me a few lessons on the subject! Finally, I met someone as picky about coffee as I am. OK, so maybe St. Thomas Roasters is the same (which is why I go there so often). But it was so good talking to someone around my age who saw eye-to-eye with me on the specifics. Especially in isolated Shippensburg.

Yes, that was quite a trip. And as I drove out of town, full of information and caffeine, I realized that I really did miss the old place more than I thought. There were good times there, even if there weren’t as many as I would have liked. We like to see ourselves as survivors of a bad situation, and when we do that, sometimes we lose focus of how complex a situation is and view things through the lens of negativity that we should not. For sure, this coffee shop gives me hope that wherever I go, I’ll find a place where there are at least a few like minded folks who care about the things that really matter. Especially coffee.


IMG_1865well lit interior…


IMG_1866nod to the alma mater…

IMG_1869something new…

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Posted by on April 22, 2018 in Uncategorized